Five Things to Know About Emerald Waterways' Sky Cruise Ship
Best for: Anyone looking for a culture-focused river cruise at a moderate price point
Sails: The Danube River, the Main River, the Rhine River
At a Glance: Emerald Waterways made its debut in 2014 with the introduction of its first two vessels, Emerald Sky and Emerald Star. Emerald Sun and Emerald Dawn joined its sister ships in 2015, and in 2017 the fleet is almost doubling in size with the addition of Emerald Liberté, Emerald Destiny, and Emerald Radiance. The look of Emerald’s ships is fresh and modern with fun touches like a pool that converts into a cinema; don’t be surprised to see a slightly younger crowd than on some other river cruise lines.
The Pool Converts Into a Movie Theater
One of Emerald Sky’s best features is the heated mosaic-tiled pool, which is located under a retractable glass roof so guests can take a dip no matter what the weather. Here’s the best part: at night, the pool’s bottom is raised and the area transforms into a small cinema, complete with lounge chairs and boxes of popcorn. You can even order cocktails from the nearby bar.
Excursions Can Get Physical
Want to work off that breakfast buffet? In 2017, Emerald launched EmeraldActive excursions, free hiking and biking tours for passengers who want to burn calories while they see the sights. Among the offerings: a guided uphill hike to Austria’s Durnstein Castle, a 23-mile biking tour of the Wachau Valley, and a city bike tour of Belgrade.
It’s All About the View
The sleek, white-on-grey cabins feel modern and airy, especially if you choose a Panorama Balcony Suite, which has a wall-size window. (The top half lowers at the flick of a switch.) Right next to it is a “decking area,” with a wood-paneled floor and two deck chairs, so passengers feel as if they’re sitting on an outdoor balcony. Guests who want to splurge on a true veranda can go for the Grand Balcony Suite or the Owner’s One Balcony Suite, while the cost-conscious can opt for a Single Stateroom or a stateroom with a picture window.
You’ll Have Multiple Dining Options
Dinner happens at Reflections Restaurant, where passengers sit down to an elegant four-course meal and complimentary choices of red or white wine. During the day, there are breakfast and lunch buffets here, as well, but if the weather is fine, you’ll want to eat your meals al fresco, either at The Terrace restaurant on the bow, or at the Sky Barbecue grill on the sun deck.
Culture Is a Focus
Along with complimentary excursion at every port, Emerald also offers at least one free “EmeraldPlus” tour or event, the line’s way of helping passengers take a deep dive into the local culture. For example, on the Treasures of the Danube cruise, guests might be treated to lunch at a locals’ house in Vukovar, Croatia, then afternoon tea with a Slovakian family in Bratislava.